We all know how great Shabazz is but, predictably, his collegiate accomplishments have only taken his stock so far. I'll all but guarantee that some international kid playing in Australia who's only been seen by a handful of scouts will be generating more excitement amongst NBA front offices than Shabazz will. It never fails: the longer you stay in college, the longer you gives these dopes ... I mean, NBA general managers an opportunity to nit pick your game.
Having said that, it' clear some of Napier's shortcomings are hurting him in a draft believed to be about as deep as any in the last several years. He's not overly athletic, not the tallest guard anyone's ever seen, and he doesn't possess that explosive quickness pro guys love to see. I'm sure in the combine drills they put these guys through, Shabazz didn't look great. When you're asking players to run, jump, and lift weights - you know, everything but play 5-on-5 in meaningful games - Napier, I'm sure, appears wanting.
In looking at some of the mock drafts, almost all of the "big" sites have Napier going anywhere from 20 to 30. CBS Sports has three guys offering opinions: Gary Parrish has Shabazz going to the Grizzilies at 22, Zach Harper predicts he'll go 29 to the Thunder, and Matt Moore has Napier landing with the champs, San Antonio, at 30. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix has Napier going to Miami at 26, as does Marc Spears from Yahoo! Sports.
The outliers seem to be Red Forgrave from Fox Sports, who has Shabazz's hometown Celtics taking him at 17, and ESPN's Chad Ford, with Shabazz going 19 to the Bulls. DraftExpress has Napier going to the Hornets (reunited with Kemba) at 24 while both NBADraft.net and HoopsHype have the Raptors at 20 taking him.As you can see, everyone is all over the map here. (Drafts were as of Thursday afternoon.)
Obviously for Napier, the most attractive option is the Celtics. He's a Massachusetts kid and playing for Boston would surely be a dream come true. And as someone who really only follows the NBA to see former UConn players, it would be ideal for me. Getting a chance to see almost all of Napier's games here in Connecticut through NESN would be great.
However, I'm not sold that Boston would be the ideal landing spot for Shabazz. Unless Danny Ainge pulls off a "everything for Kevin Love" kinda trade, I think the road back to respectibility will be kinda long for the Celts. And while there's always rumors that Rajon Rondo will be dealt, I'm not sold that will ever happen. If it doesn't then Shabazz will be stuck behind Rondo.
Personally, I love the idea of the Spurs for Shabazz. True, he'd be in a similar situation like the one in Boston, with an All Star point guard blocking his way, but the Spurs under Greg Popovich play a different brand of basketball, working multiple players into the lineup on a nightly basis. Plus, Tony Parker has been somewhat fragile of late, meaning it's likely Pop would look to use Napier a lot. And is there any doubt that the Spurs would love a smart point guard with natural passing instincts and a penchant for hitting long threes?
However, the one team that seems to be connected to Napier the most is Miami. While it's possible that the "big three" break apart this summer and throw the Heat into disarray, I still believe Lebron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh will stay together. How great an addition would Napier be to that crew?
Unlike almost any other team connected to Shabazz, the Heat have an immediate opening for a point guard. Mario Chalmers is a free agent and hasn't been a great player for Miami anyway. That would leave the team with Norris Cole as their best option. Ouch.
Napier could possibly win the starting spot right off the bat, and I've got to imagine that Lebron would be a big fan of playing with the former UConn standout.
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
Despite the Heat's porous play against the Spurs, they will almost assuredly remain the favorites to go back to another NBA Finals next year, and how could Shabazz not improve as a player while on the same roster as Lebron and Dwayne Wade?
He could legitimately go from point guard of the NCAA champs to point guard of the NBA champs. That would be pretty damn cool.
What do you think would be best for Shabazz? Oh and by the way, we just found out this morning that he is actually on Twitter now! You can follow him @shabazznapier, identity confirmed through his instagram.
UPDATE: ESPN Insider Chad Ford is reporting that the Heat are aggressively trying to move up to pick Napier in an attempt to appease LeBron James. The rumored offer right now is Norris Cole and their 26th pick, looking to move up in the late teens.
Sources: Heat aggressively trying to move up in draft. Target is Shabazz Napier. LeBron thinks he’s best PG in the draft & Heat need a PG— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 25, 2014